Wednesday, December 25, 2013

47 Ronin Pre-Review; I, Frankenstein, Expendables 3, Transcendence & Her

This character doesn't get much screen time, but adds an important morsel of commentary.
Of all the films opening that I could have gone to go see, why did I choose 47 Ronin with Keanu Reeves? It's the only one that is pro-capitalist (unless you consider The Hobbit, which opened a couple of weeks ago). This has anti-Obama written all over it, and in a number of important ways, including why Kai (Reeves) is a half-breed. Did you ever see that film The Deer Hunter with Robert DeNiro and Christopher Walken (1978; it's on the AFI 100 Best Movies Of All Time list)? There is a remarkably well-done reference to that in the film not to mention some of the spectacular special effects. Sadly, I saw it in 3D and, in spite of the great special effects, the 3D didn't seem to be really worth it (it was all done well, it just didn't seem there was enough of a 3D experience to bother seeing it in 3D again). In short, 47 Ronin did not disappoint: it is full of patriotism and--like what we saw in Thor the Dark World--a call to commit treason against injustice.
Let's take a moment to consider a film coming out in February that I am exceedingly interested in:
So, what's the key to understanding this film?
200 years ago.
Since the film will be released in 2014, what happened in 1814? The War of 1812 officially ends with the signing of the Treaty of Ghent (even though there was still the Battle Of New Orleans to fight) and, even though this is America's "forgotten war," it was the second time America won independence from Great Britain which is why Frankenstein (Aaron Eckhardt) says, "I was given life," because--if America had lost the War of 1812--we would have gone back to being a British colony and would have ceased to be the United States of America; more importantly, however, since we just saw Aaron Eckhardt in Olympus Has Fallen, it might be the Burning of Washington we are supposed to be considering during the film, and how Washington is being burned today. The qualities of Frankenstein could be said to be true of the American economy (at least before 2008) and, when Frankenstein says, "This ends tonight," that echoes what we hear in 47 Ronin, just before the attack on the enemy's city.
Now, let's see if you know what famous film the teaser for Expendables 3 references:
Congratulations! The Bridge On the River Kwai (1957) is correct (well, no, technically, The Breakfast Club isn't correct: while it was referenced in that film, The Breakfast Club, too, was referencing The Bridge On the River Kwai, so you only get a half point for that one, but at least you remembered it!). Why reference that film? It's about a vicious captor trying to break the will of military men who have extraordinary virtue, and why self-sacrifice is so virtuous (which we see also in 47 Ronin and The Hobbit: the Desolation Of Smaug).
If you like the super controversial, and philosophical and "dangerous," you might find this interesting:
I don't think it's just that Morgan Freeman is in this that makes me think of Oblivion: the Tet was consuming resources the way (it appears) the intellect starts consuming knowledge and technological power in Transcendence. BUT, there is a larger issue being communicated with this, and it is conveyed even more aptly in this trailer:
It's not just the "animation" of technology, but the dehumanization of humanity. We all know what a liberal Joaquin Phoenix is, and we should keep this in mind since he is being seriously rumored to play Lex Luthor in Superman vs Batman (with Ben Affleck). In some other films news, Clash Of the Titans 3 appears to have been cancelled (I thoroughly enjoyed Wrath Of the Titans, so that's disappointing). There appears to be a Western in the making: the Magnificent 7 which originally starred Yul Brenner and Steve McQueen; Tom Cruise has reportedly dropped out of filming for that project.
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas! The Mystery of the Gift

Basilica di San Francesco, Lower Church, Giotto di Bondone (1267-1337), La Nativit√†. This image often confuses people because of the two women in the bottom-center holding the Infant, since there is no mention of women attending the Blessed Virgin, which provides the crucial hint we need to understanding the image: they are allegorical figures, not literal. The woman in green, holding the red cloth (it's supposed to be red) symbolizes Mary's hope, and because she so fervently hoped for the coming of the Messiah to free Israel, her hope gave birth to love for the Messiah, which aided her in receiving the Angel's message that she would bear the Christ Child. The woman in white symbolizes Mary's faith, purity and innocence (from sin). As we know, the "swaddling clothes" the Infant Jesus is wrapped within foreshadows His Death and Burial (because Mary all ready knew He was born to die). The "bowl" between the two women probably--although I could be wrong about this one--foreshadows the Chalice at the Last Supper (the "Holy Grail") and Christ shedding His Blood for Humanity (in the right side of the image, there is a small gold tree, which reminds us of the Tree of the Cross).  Mary, in the center of the panel holding Jesus, is wrapped in blue because blue is the color of wisdom, and she has turned her new Motherhood into instant Discipleship in contemplating the Word made Flesh. Her reclining position foreshadows how Mary, like Christ lying upon the Cross, will offer herself in suffering for the redemption of Israel. The ox and donkey remind us that Christ has been born in a smelly, dirty animal-shelter, but they symbolize our own animal passions and sins, which is what makes the Nativity timeless: Christ is always being born within us (the stable/manger/cave being a symbol for our soul). Each time someone comes to Christ, the Nativity has taken place within their soul; each time we overcome a sin, we have cleaned up the stable for Christ, making it come to more closely resemble the new tomb Christ was laid in after His Death, because no one else (the devil) has been in there. The flock of sheep and rams in the bottom, right-hand corner symbolize Christ's flock and how He will call Himself the Good Shepherd, and identify with the lowly shepherds who have gathered there to adore Him and hear the Angel's Good News. St Joseph, in the bottom, left-hand corner, seems cast off to the side; that's hardly the case. We are like St Joseph: seemingly removed from what is taking place, we are still called to contemplate--in our own way--what is taking place, and our own role as we, too, are involved in the Nativity, each time we our converted or our prayers for the conversions for others takes place.
On this eve of Christmas, I wish you the very warmest blessings! Like everything in Christian culture, Christmas receives a lot of bashing: it's so commercial, it's only about gift-receiving, you get so busy you can't really enjoy it, etc. As we know, a lot of that has to do with our own selves, but that stems from our failure of "entering into the Mystery" Christ wants to share with us. Many think the gift-giving at Christmas symbolizes the gifts the Wise Men bring Christ (the Feast of the Epiphany, which we will celebrate Sunday, January 6, and contains its own mysteries), but we are wiser in considering that Christ IS THE GIFT. Without Christ coming to earth and taking on flesh, we would not be able to hope for salvation, we would knot know the Way of Life (and when we see those who are lost, we can appreciate that we know the Way) and--among countless other blessings--we wouldn't even be able to know ourselves. Recognizing that Christ is the Gift, also helps us to remember that WE, TOO, ARE A GIFT to others: our family, our co-workers, neighbors, and every single human being on earth. Likewise, they are gifts to us, which brings us to the tradition of giving gifts on Christmas.
A later Nativity, also by Giotto.
It's happened to you at least once: you got a gift you absolutely hate. Without saying it, many of those who criticize Christmas, are criticizing this very thing, receiving a gift they don't want and didn't ask for. As Christians, we can understand how this reflects a part of Christmas if we are willing to enter into the Mystery of Salvation: Christ gives us gifts we don't want, and they usually take the form of Crosses. No one wants to suffer, the same way no one probably wants that heavy-as-a-brick fruitcake, or that horrid sweater. Culture says, that person shouldn't give that gift; Christ says, accept all I send you. Why? Gratitude. Just watching TV should alert us all to what a rare and exceptional virtue Gratitude has become, and all the ills that would be eradicated with such a simple When we are faithful in small matters, we will be faithful in greater ones, and none of us are made perfect but through the Cross. Why is that important? Being cleansed of our sins, it's easier for us to live with ourselves (if you know someone who makes terrible decisions, or generally lives a life of sin, you know how miserable they from their own doing), it makes the world a better place and--you not only go to heaven--but consider this: heaven becomes an even better place because you are there in all the glory God destined for you and you alone.
By Rembrandt, the Angel Appearing to the Shepherds in the field.
There are also the Christmas gifts we did ask for and receive that forms part of the Mystery of Christmas: Israel had been praying for generations for the Messiah to come, and finally, finally He did come. When you receive the gift you asked for, remember all the prayers you have said that God answered, regardless of how long God took in answering it, or still hasn't answered, but will; again, practice gratitude, not for the thing, but that your hope was rewarded. This brings us to the "exchange" that takes place during Christmas. As is said at every Sunday Mass before the Offering is taken up, "At every Mass, there is an exchange: God offers me His Son, what will I offer God?" Of course, the Church wants you to offer money, because that's part of their mission, but at Christmas, there is something God specifically wants you to offer Him: your sins.
Adoration of the Shepherds by Rembrandt, 1646. One of the complaints people lodge against Christmas is that they are depressed, or there is nothing merry about it. More often than not, this sadly reflects what is--or is not--in that person's heart, because Love is the first gift to always be given at Christmas, but either we cannot receive it, we don't want it or we don't want to give it, which dissipates our ability to experience joy at Christmas. Most of us know, there is a big difference between joy and fun, and people will often mistake the emotion (fun) for the spiritual gift (joy). There have been three people in my life I have known who had the spiritual gift of joy, and each in a different way. Joy is a direct result of the Holy Spirit, it's not something we can summon within our self or force upon others. On the other hand, just because we don't have joy doesn't mean we are devoid of love; it's a Gift that is given at God's discretion to those who He deems He wants to give it to. The Gift of Joy is something we can pray for, but because it is a Fruit of the Spirit, it is one that often must be waited for with great diligence.
When you die, God wants your soul to be presented to Him as pure and humbly as Mary offers the Christ Child to the Shepherds: in total purity, love and forgiveness, without a single spot of sin. How do we offer our sins? By resolving to do better on those areas we know temptation usually gets the better of us, but also to give Jesus our sins through exercising the virtue opposite of our sin: if we tend to get angry or hold grudges against people, you can give Him that blotch on your soul by forgiving, which is one of the greatest of Christmas Mysteries: becoming God in the Newborn Child. You don't have to say anything to that person(s), just tell God what incident(s) you offer to Him, and that you want to forgive that person, as God has forgiven you for your own sins, and when Satan tempts you into holding onto that grudge, humbly offer it to God again, and again, and as many times as it takes to get rid of it.
Which brings us to the last point,...
Only you get to experience this Christmas.
This Christmas, with all its particulars and intimate details, has been created for you and you alone by God to provide for all you need right now; next Christmas will be different, and the next Christmas, but this Christmas is to provide what you need at this point in your journey. There may be things you want, but you don't need, or there are things don't want, but do need and only God knows what you need, and He will provide for you, just as shelter was provided for Joseph and Mary when there was no room at the inn. But you must be open to receiving the Gift He wants to give you, all the gifts, not just some of them. With that, I pray God, in His infinite goodness and abundance, will bless you with that Gift of Wisdom, the greatest gift for which we mere mortals can hope. May the richness of Christ's blessings be upon you today and all time!
Merry Christmas!
The Fine Art Diner

Sunday, December 15, 2013

How Is The Desolation Of Smaug?

I don't even know what has happened to the formatting of this post. I do apologize; some of you are probably like, it's been so long since she's posted, she's forgotten how; I don't blame you one bit for that,...
Gandalf has a stupendous role he has to balance in this film: with his role, we see an articulation in the difference between magic (like in Harry Potter) and power (which will come to full blossom in The Lord Of the Rings, after Gandalf has his huge fall and emerges as Gandalf the White). When Gandalf walks through Dol Guldur, the lines he says are similar--if not exact to--the prayers of exorcism; coincidence? I think not. There is really no way, between the Necromancer and the corrupt leader of Laketown, to not read this in a political context: spies, taxes, corruption, riots. But, more than that, is the overall structure of the soul's journey: who we are and who we become; as Gandalf tells Bilbo, he is no longer the same hobbit who was in the shire a few months ago.
This screenplay is just superior to what we saw in The Lord Of the Rings. It just keeps getting better, it's nearly 3 hours, and yet, when it ended, I felt my stomach fall because it was like, "NO! It can't be over yet!" The story line was excellent (even when it veers from the original narrative by JRR Tolkien) demonstrating that the numerous writers genuinely have a handle on all the dimensions of this story. I thought the acting was very good, especially Orlando Bloom who has an unusually strong presence on the screen, as well as Luke Evans. As you can imagine, Martin Freeman and Ian McKellen were outstanding; Benedict Cumberbatch is a perfect dragon. There is a TON of stuff going on in this screenplay (I do suggest watching The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey before The Desolation Of Smaug, if you can; the third installment is There and Back Again, due out in exactly one year) and overall, I am exceedingly pleased. It's just one more outstanding film for the year.
The last scene of An Unexpected Journey was that of a thrush banging a nut against a stone wall of the Lonely Mountain, deep within, Smaug awoke, hearing the noise; the question is, however, was it the noise, or something else waking Smaug? In this part of the story, from what Smaug discusses with Bilbo, it was the start of the prophecy falling into place, from the smallest details, to the grandest. No one experiences a "wilder" ride in this film than Thorin (pictured). When, towards the end, Thorin uncases stone surrounding a giant (and it's giant) statue of a pure gold dwarf king, that's Thorin, it's even Thorin's very soul at that moment (and that's why Smaug looks at it in such curiosity, it's not the Thorin he recognizes) but Thorin has done everything right (after holding a blade to Bilbo asking for the Arkenstone) and Thorin will not have a greater moment after this, it's because he has been such a brave, self-less leader during their attempt at killing Smaug that Thorin's stature has increased so much; sadly, however, it's not going to be enough. Bilbo and Gandalf, on the other hand, have purged themselves of so much sin and weakness, they really can't be killed, there is no evil/power/temptation strong enough to overcome them; we will probably see the exact opposite with Thorin however, given that Smaug has all ready predicted for us what will happen.
It's sad, however, the list of ultra-liberal films nominated for the Screen Actors Guild (a "guild" is a modern union); why is that important? Because actors are, essentially, voting for the roles they like the best, advertising the roles they themselves would like to be offered and play in so it increases the likelihood that more such roles will be written for dominating actors (because they hope if you have a big-name actor in a role, the film will do well, so to get a big-name actor, offer them the type of role they seem most likely to take, which is on display at the SAG awards). I am also disappointed to discover that in American Hustle, Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence kiss each other, which leads us to something else that has happened this past week,....
Talk about a complex character: when he's trying to strike a deal with Thorin, and his skin melts away to reveal horrible burn marks from dragon fire, it adds a truly sinister dimension to this character. When he and Legolas question the Orc they have captured, and he promises to free the Orc, then kills him instead, it suggests that this act, like the burn marks on his face, "exposes" his real "decayed" state beneath his royal robes (rather like the Stewards in The Lord Of the Rings). We should be prepared for him to have to battle a villain in the next installment because Legolas is battling an Orc with a blind eye, revealing to us the audience that Legolas himself has been "blinded" regarding Tauriel and her affection towards Kili; when Legolas realizes the battle with the half-blind Orc has caused his nose to start bleeding, I think he has pulled himself together and decided he's not going to be ridiculous, but what happens with Tauriel and Kili remains to be seen because that isn't in the book (and maybe Legolas realizes he can't be with Tauriel anyway, since she doesn't appear in The Lord Of the Rings).
Rest in peace, Paul Walker, who was laid to rest this weekend, Peter O'Toole, who just passed away today, and Joan Fontaine who also passed away: Eternal rest grant unto them, O'Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them; may they rest in peace. Amen.
The Fine Art Diner

Thursday, December 5, 2013

300: Rise Of An Empire Trailer #2 & Other Film News

(This is an old post; for my complete review and interpretation of all the elements of the film, please see A Call To Rebel: 300 Rise Of An Empire).
Oh, yea,...
Why start out with a prophecy?
Why start out with a prophecy about the end?
Why start out with a prophecy about the end that only stout wooden ships can overcome?
Because it's about America's legacy as a super-power.
Just as we will quote movies in our daily conversations, the movies also quote movies: films want you to know that they know you are an educated viewer, you have seen films, you remember scenes and you have bonded with characters. When we see instances in 300 Rise Of An Empire that reminds us of 300, it's because it wants us to remember that film, it wants us to remember what happened and why and how we felt about it. When we see scenes or hear dialogue in other films that make us think of 300, it's because those films want to be "linked" to 300, in what it said and why (like 47 Ronin). The world is an entirely different place today than it was when 300 came out in 2006. Why focus on a naval battle? Well, one history student might respond, because that's what happened. That might be correct historically speaking, however, if there were not some real reason for today's needs, film makers would have ditched the "stout ships" and gone for another "foot soldier" film like we saw at the end of 300 with the 10,000 Spartans charging the invading Persians. So, why the ships? America has always been protected from "invasions" by the Atlantic on the east, and Pacific on the west, one of the main reasons we have enjoyed peace for so long. It's was through its naval power that ancient Greece was recognized as a super-power, and why Artemisia (Eva Green) says only a god can defeat the Greeks, because their ships were of superior technology and their navy's skill unsurpassed, so we can easily see Greece as a metaphor for America's former role as a super-power in the world. Put this thought on hold; what image do we first see in the trailer? A man hurling a flame out into the water and it catching fire; why? This probably invokes the famous Greek fire, one of the great mysteries of the ancient world. Why is this important? Technology and innovation. You have a democracy, Athens, that is also a super-power because of it's technology and innovation, being invaded by an army using brute force and fear as its weapons.
There are lots of films coming about the end of the world--Pompeii, This Is the End, World War Z, Ice Age 4, The Croods, The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug, X-Men Days Of Future Past, etc.--but this is the film about stopping the end of the world. As we have said numerous times, history films are never ever never ever never ever never EVER about history, in this case, the invasion of the Persians, rather, they are ALWAYS about the here and the now, because we aren't interested in another people, we are really only interested in ourselves, and the historical events being depicted are merely a vehicle for us to understand what is happening in our own day, our own time.
Greece falling is a metaphor of the United States falling.
How can we say that?
What's that on her back? Spikes, like a reptile's, like a dragon's, meant to communicate that she is an animal, a cold-blooded animal. There have been a number of dragons making appearances lately and we shouldn't think this is a coincidence (The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, 47 Ronin, Maleficent, and the serpent in Noah). Likewise, we have recently seen another female with a bow wanting to bring down a government: Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games). This is a war movie, but this is a war between women: Queen Gorgo (Lena Headey) goes up against Artemisia (Green) who--from what I understand--wants revenge on the Greeks because they killed her family. We could sit back and say, that's so trite, what film doesn't erect that as a narrative device, but examining how she is being portrayed (and yes, Artemisia I of Caria was a real woman, who really controlled a navy for Xerxes and was a queen after the death of her husband because her son was too young to take the throne for himself, but we don't know if that will play into the film's story or not) will tell us exactly what was killed by America; we have all ready seen this in Olympus Has Fallen, when the North Korean wants to turn America's own nukes against it because his family was killed when he was a child (read: when socialism was still young in the world, America killed Marxism, socialism, fascism, Nazism and all the others, so now, they are going to take revenge on America). How can I make this about class so soon? Well, it will have to get around to that at one point or another, because Themistocles is from Athens, a democracy, whereas Gorgo is from Sparta, and while Sparta was a champion of democracies in other parts of the world, and fought against tyrants, Sparta's own government was based upon a complex system of those who were free and those who were enslaved. Part of the class conflict, however, probably won't focus on the differences between the Athenians and Spartans, rather, upon the Greeks and Persians: more rights were enjoyed by a greater majority of Greeks than by Persians who were utterly enslaved; Artemisia may look like she enjoys a lot of modern "women's rights," but the differences between her and Gorgo will be the important sub-text of the film.  
To begin, 300 (which we will discuss fully prior to the release of 300: Rise of An Empire in March) was clearly a metaphor for the damages done to the United States by the jihad of 9/11 and the vast differences in the cultures between those who crashed the planes into the World Trade Centers and the culture that built the World Trade Centers with the incredible physiques of the 300 Spartan soldiers representing, first of all, their spiritual/moral strength as well as the strength of the American economy because men generally symbolize the active principles of production (again, we'll go more into it later). But here's the obvious contradiction: 300 Rise Of An Empire is "the rise of an empire," not the end and downfall of an empire this second trailer opens with, so why are we talking about the end? Because when threatened with demise, we will rise up and be re-born; that's how it is, and we will see the same themes in both 47 Ronin (Keanu Reeves) and The Hobbit: the Desolation Of Smaug. Which leads us to the role Leonides plays in the film, even if Gerard Butler isn't in it,...
What about this guy? What about the guy who is the 10-foot "god king" who couldn't make a Spartan bow and worship him? We see Xerxes in this newest trailer emerging from a "golden bath," (0:38) rather like the Queen (Charlize Theron) in Snow White and the Huntsman emerging from a thick, white liquid. In SWH, the queen had to artificially concoct a substance that would artificially endow her with similar virtues to that of Snow White (the liquid, in essence, being a bath to make the queen as "white as Snow White" but only being skin-deep) and, we could say, we see Xerxes bathing in the golden liquid attempting the same in being a god: if I bathe in gold, I will be like the immortal gods. In a different direction, we have Xerxes calling for war in the trailer, and Artemisia wanting war; why? IF we can take America to be represented by Greece, then this serves as a defense, since America doesn't start wars, others start war with America (the city-states of Greece are prosperous, but peaceful, because--as we have noted on different occasions--peace is necessary for trade to thrive, whereas war is necessary for a slave state (such as socialism) because the leaders more easily justify their tyranny in a state of war, as well as the vast consumption of resources they don't want going to their citizens (if citizens are healthy, they will overthrow the tyrant).
"Let's pray they're that stupid," Leonides (Gerard Butler) tells one of his bodyguards, because if the Persians are dumb enough to kill one of the Spartan kings, that automatically means Sparta is at war with Persia, regardless of any festival or holiday--hence, the sacrifice of Leonides for the rest of his homeland. So, what we have, in effect, is the logical game created by Leonides who knew war with Persia could not be avoided. At 0:42 in the trailer, we see Xerxes calling for war (probably some kind of a flashback) and Artemisia saying "war," and then Xerxes saying, "war" which suggests that Xerxes is Artemisia's pigeon, her plaything, and she can get him to do whatever she wants, unlike Gorgo and Leonides whose relationship was based on mutual respect. This won't just be about class relations, but also sexual relations, and what happens when male/female takes an unnatural part in a relationship and the consequences of that (because we certainly see that in today's culture).
When they aren't wearing much, every little detail is important. Whereas the Spartans of 300 wore their red capes, the Athenians wear blue. Red, as we know, symbolizes blood: either you love someone to the point you are willing to spill your bold for them, or you are so angry/hateful of that person, you are willing to spill their blood for your own appeasement. With the Spartans, they loved their country so much, they willingly gave their lives for their king and country. What about the Athenians? Blue denotes both wisdom and depression: the path of wisdom is often filled with the hardships of experience, which is usually depressing, so whereas the Spartans had their bodies as weapons, we should probably look to the Athenians for using the hearts and minds as their weapons.
This is definitely a film creating dichotomies on numerous levels and two more deal with how to face death and who we are as individuals. "Look deep into your souls," Themistocles says, and that's because he believes we have souls; someone like Xerxes believes he is a god, but doesn't believe the "underlings" beneath him have souls, they exist solely to serve his whims and cease to exist when they don't serve his whims (Artemisia echoes this when she says, "Today we will dock on the backs of dead Greeks," comparing them to planks of wood); so, defining the "individual" will be one of many dichotomies created. Additionally, how the two sides view death will also be a philosophical point: "If death comes for me today, I'm ready," Artemisia says, while Themistocles says, "It's better to die on your feet, than live on your knees."
What's the difference?
Maybe it's just me,... does she ever look like a zombie in these scenes to you? I mean, the heavy, dark eye make-up and pale skin, the long, straight hair and gothic clothing? Well, if she has sold her soul to death himself, that pretty much qualifies her as a zombie. IF the film takes her in such a direction--and it would be somewhat difficult to prove--why? Well, the Immortals standing behind her in this scene (the ones who wear the face mask) support this theory because they have abandoned their own identity (in wearing a mask and slavishly obeying Xerxes) to obey without question. So, since--at least in this scene--we see Artemisia standing with those who have abandoned their identity, we will have to ask if she, too, has abandoned her identity. We know that black (the outfit she wears) symbolizes death: their is good death, as in one is dead to the world and worldliness; then there is death that is dead to the spirit/soul but alive only to the world and worldliness. If Artemisia is after power, the way it appears to me in this trailer, then that would be appropriate. Themistocles, however, isn't after power--he wants Greece unified--but he certainly doesn't want this war where everything they have all worked for is going to be destroyed.
We kind of know what the difference is: Artemisia has "Sold her soul to death himself," meaning, roughly, that she is all ready dead regardless of how many more years she might live; why has she struck such a bargain? She has sold her soul so she can force slavery upon others, giving her soul in slavery so she can force the bodies of others into slavery, hence, Themistocles telling his soldiers to steady their hearts and look deep into their souls, because their souls will remain free, whereas Artemisia is all ready enslaved.
I have no idea who this guy is, but his caption reads, "War is in my blood!" This offers an interesting juxtaposition against the Spartans who spend their whole life training for battle and a glorious death, so what's the difference? We'll have to wait and see but I am sure it will be one more incredible layer of characterization the film provides!
In other film news,...
The writer for Life Of Pi is doing the screenplay for the next Chronicles of Narnia film, The Silver Chair, which will be awesome!  Bryan Singer, producer of X-Men Days Of Future Past announced via Twitter today that the next installment, X-Men: Apocalypse will be released May 27, 2016, which will be awesome! There will be a fifth installment of The Bourne Identity coming out in 2016, again starring Jeremy Renner (The Bourne Legacy). Gal Gadot, who plays Gisele in Fast & Furious 6 has won the role of Wonder Woman in the upcoming Superman vs Batman film starring Henry Cavill and Ben Affleck (it's rumored that Wonder Woman is/was romantically involved with Batman). Producer Christopher Nolan has his written/directed project Interstellar making its trailer debut at The Hobbit: the Desolation Of Smaug December 14 (I didn't even know they had finished filming!).
Jamie Foxx presents one of those interesting casting decisions: people, especially white people, know that Jamie Foxx hates us and pretty much anyone who is not a gay black male; so why would he be cast as a villain, unless the film makers also view him as a villain? This is one of those instances of "reader response" theory: the film makers know we have seen other films, like Django Unchained, and possibly--though not likely--White House Down, so casting Jamie Foxx as a villain is like casting those films as villains. I could be wrong, but I don't think I am about this one, I think--with making Electro that shocking blue color--we are meant to think of liberals and what they are doing to the country. But isn't Andrew Garfield a liberal, too? Sure, but has he been in racially charged films calling for violent revolution against a certain segment of society either based on skin color, how much money they have or both? No, he hasn't. In fact, what else has Andrew Garfield really been in but this? I think we will see the same type of incorporation of actors in Nolan's Interstellar, which, from what I understand, is about Matthew McConaughey, Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Casey Affleck, Ann Hathaway and some others going into a wormhole that has created new possibilities for humans in space travel, also creating a possibility for time travel; it's my understanding they all die. Anyway, film makers know that actors come out in support of politics of the liberal nature, but I think we need to trust the ultra-conservative Mr. Nolan; when he decides to say something, we should all listen, respectfully, and given how superior The Amazing Spider Man was to anything I was expecting, I think this film deserves our total attention as well.
The first trailer for The Amazing Spider Man 2 has been released and it looks like it's going to be quite spectacular.
The opening monologue,... couldn't we take that to kind of be a good statement of self-summary of the US? We try to save people, we try to help countries and do good, but we have made all these enemies out of the socialists and Muslims and have we finally come up against an enemy too powerful to overcome? We'll discuss this much more after the release of the second trailer, but I think the scene at 1:40, where Spidey has the cover of a man-hole he's using to break the robotic monster (rather like the robotic samurai we saw in The Wolverine) is a great summary: whatever that robot symbolizes, it belongs in the sewer.
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Oscar Wave Begins: New York Film Critics

Who are the New York Film Critics?
Critics who write and appear in various medium throughout New York, and who get together to try and agree on something one time a year, then announce it to the world. Today they announced that they have voted American Hustle as the Best Film Of the Year, along with Best Screenplay and Jennifer Lawrence receiving Best Supporting Actress. It was noted that there was a record number of good films being offered, but another important event happened as well: a rare tie-breaker. It appears there was as much support for 12 Years A Slave in the same category (Steve McQueen won for Best Director). Other notable winnings of the group went to Jared Leto for Dallas Buyers Club, Cate Blanchett for Blue Jasmine, Robert Redford for All Is Lost, Best Foreign Film went to Blue Is the Warmest Color and Best Cinematography went to Inside Llewyn Davis.
Why should we care about this?
Well, we don't necessarily have to.
12 Years A Slave
For smaller films, or smaller/lesser known actors who haven't received critical accolades, an award is an award; a second reason this is important is that American Hustle hasn't even come out yet, so being able to flaunt it has all ready won 3 awards will likely increase the traffic it gets opening day (December 25) as people are wanting to be "in the know" when it comes to potential Oscar nominees. Lastly, in Hollywood, any publicity is good publicity, but that doesn't mean it lasts. In the grand scheme, just because a film starts out strong, doesn't guarantee a strong finish (remember Zero Dark Thirty last year? It was the darling of critic circles and it hardly ended up with any Oscar noms and only won like 1 technical award; Argo didn't start out so well, but ended up with Best Picture, not that it should have; Daniel Day-Lewis started strong with awards for Lincoln, and ended strong, so it's impossible to tell).
The best way to view the various "critics circles" who will be announcing their choice for films in the upcoming months is as different cliques, and the reason there are so many different cliques is because there are so many different tastes. There have been a record number of films the last 3 years, which means that who wins what is more a matter of politics, morals and taste rather than definitive aesthetic judgment; we all ready knew that, because that's what happens every year, with every award given, but as we have noted previously, those who win awards are likely going to be the first ones hired to do upcoming films (nothing succeeds like success) so their influence, their agendas are going to be spread even more as they continue accelerating their talent and goals throughout different projects. Ultimately, that's the main reason why we should care and why this--and every other award is important: the films getting awards today, will reflect the films being made tomorrow.
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner